Make Smoking History marks 20 year anniversary with graphic new campaign

Updated 21 Sep 2021.

Make Smoking History Voice Box

Last week we marked the 20 year anniversary of our flagship tobacco control program, Make Smoking History, while also launching a graphic new advertising campaign to illustrate the physical and emotional devastation of head and neck cancers caused by smoking.

The campaign, titled Voice Box , is one of the most graphic advertising campaigns developed since Make Smoking History was launched in 2000.

 "In 2019, Make Smoking History commissioned Gatecrasher to film a laryngectomy (the surgical removal of a person's voice box) at Fiona Stanley Hospital with additional footage filmed at St John of God Murdoch Hospital," our CEO, Ashley Reid said.

"The campaign was developed following concern from WA health professionals about the low awareness of the causative link between smoking and head and neck cancers, and the life changing effects of the treatment for such cancers.

"We are so grateful to our (anonymous) patient for allowing the crew to film their deeply personal operation and to Dr Hamish Mace, Specialist Anaesthetist and Dr Rob Wormald, Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon, for speaking to camera about how this type of operation changes a person's life," Mr Reid said.

"Thanks to a financial investment and commitment from Cancer Council WA's donors, the State Government and Healthway we've been able to drive down WA's adult smoking rate from 22.5 per cent in the year 2000 to 11.5 per cent in 2018.

"The program started when one in four WA adults smoked cigarettes. People still smoked in bars, nightclubs, playgrounds and cars carrying children. Clearly, progress has been made."

Mr Reid said hard-hitting campaigns have been a key strategy to the success of Make Smoking History over the past 20 years.

"Research has shown that anti-smoking ads that use personal testimonies, graphic imagery, emotive messages and the negative health effects of smoking have been the most effective in prompting quit attempts," he said.

"We are so grateful to the brave Western Australians who have generously shared their stories with us in our campaigns.

"As a result of these hard-hitting campaigns, we have potentially saved tens of thousands-possibly hundreds of thousands-of lives.

"While smoking rates have decreased significantly in the past 20 years, it is vitally important that comprehensive, evidence-based approaches to tobacco control continue because the fight is far from over."

The Voice Box campaign launched on Sunday 20 September and will be on air until 5 December 2020 across metropolitan, regional and Aboriginal radio and TV stations, shopping centres and digital platforms.

More information:

  • Visit the Make Smoking History website for more information on the campaign
  • View the campaign poster featuring Talicia Jetta, Aboriginal Health Worker at the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation
  • Contact the Quitline on 13 7848 or chat online at for support with a quit attempt
  • Find out more about head and neck cancers
  • Watch our 20 years of Make Smoking History video below

Found in:  News - 2020 | View all news